The Family as a Life-Saver in Disaster

March 1983 (VOL. 1, NO. 1)

Download this article

In discussing the subject of \\"Family and Disaster\\" the implicit assumption is that the family is the \\'instrument\\' which supports the existing, societal organization and therefore the most common approach is to consider how families cope with disaster. There is confusion as to whether one is speaking about the family on an institutional level or about family units. In this paper we have tried to answer two questions: are individuals better able to cope with disaster on a large scale when living in families(units); does the individualized conjugal family unit with clear-cut divisions of labour and roles offer better chances than other family types?\r\n\r\nTo explore these questions we used the situation in Japanese camps for civilians during World War II. We reach the conclusion that it is not living in family units which gives a better chance of survival, but the ability to engage in a caring relation with other(s). The ability to adapt to changing situations, without losing one\\'s self control and a \\'fighting\\' spirit seem to be very important in order to survive. The conjugal family type prepares women much better in all respects than men.